The Chiefs have used their week off to strip their game bare and return it to what works best for them ahead of this Friday night's Super Rugby home semifinal against the Crusaders.
Forwards coach Tom Coventry admitted there had been a big emphasis on the set-piece after their capitulation in that area at times when last they met the Crusaders but every other aspect of their game has also been closely scrutinised.
"Last week was about having a look at our game, pulling it to pieces and fine-tuning a few things that haven't been working so well for us," Coventry said.
"Possibly they've been a little bit blurred after we came back from the four-week break and some of the things that were working well for us had either been forgotten or weren't being implemented that well."
The Chiefs have looked closely at why some of those previously successful things disappeared from their game after that international window and how to recapture the form that got them to the top of the New Zealand Conference and second overall.
"We trained every day, half days and a couple of full days in there, and while I think most of the boys would have liked a break we thought it was important that we addressed those things," he said.
Set-piece performance did slip for the Chiefs in the last couple of weeks of the regular season and with many of their attack moves launched off scrums and lineouts it hampered their game.
He put that down to some subconscious easing of the attitude that is needed to win games once they had qualified for a home semifinal and believes they have it in them to prevent another set-piece disaster on Friday and instead be competitive in that area.
"A lot of the Crusaders' forward pack self-esteem comes from being dominant at scrum and lineout time, and obviously kickoffs, and they were able to put that on us last time.
"But the previous time we showed we could compete against them at scrum time and we earned a couple of scrum penalties a couple of weeks ago on the back of a scrum that obviously wasn't functioning as well as it should have but our lineout fell to pieces."
It was important to get their lineout back to where it had been the rest of the season.
"I think at round 10 we had the best lineout in the competition so you don't have that for most of the competition and it just falls apart, so obviously there was a glitch there and losing Craig [Clarke] at the 11th hour didn't help, but the hunger to fix it up will be there at the weekend.
"I don't have any problems with a few glitches during this part of the season if they help us get through the semifinal."
Coventry said they also had to be realistic about the quality of the Crusaders' set-piece and had to make sure they were smart and prepared to turn bad ball into good if necessary.
He felt the edge would return to his side now they were entering knockout rugby. "We've been driving ourselves through the season on making the semifinals and now it's win the semifinal and I think that feeling you need to win a match to survive is what is required this time of the season.
"Look at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. They had that attitude rolling right through because if they lost a game they were out of the programme and they managed to rock through into the semis, pushed themselves into the final and had a huge final quarter to win the match.
"I think we can take a lot of inspiration from where they've come from this year," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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